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Italian Company Elcoman SRL Found Guilty of Reverse Domain Hijacking

Case Number: D2020-1628

Complainant: Elcoman Srl, Italy

Represented by: Andrea Colombo

An Italian company seeking to grab the domain kobra.com was found guilty of attempted Reverse Domain Name Hijacking by a solo panelist of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Elcoman Srl, Italy, which was represented by attorney Andrea Colombo, filed the complaint June 22, 2020; the ruling was issued less than three months later, on September 7. Elcoman had argued its ownership of several trademarks, at least one dating to 1996, gave it legitimate rights in the domain name.

While the panelist, W. Scott Blackmer, wrote that the domain owner could not demonstrate a bona fide use of the domain for a “current offering of goods and services”, he also stated there had been neither bad faith at the time of the registration of the domain, which dates to 1999, nor bad faith in the use of the domain, past or present.

The respondent in this case, Marc Ellis, of the United Kingdom, stated he never knew of the Italian company or its trademark at the time he acquired the domain. Mr. Ellis stated he acquired the domain for the purpose of writing financial information and sharing news about the Kobra financial software program, used by the financial industry up to about 2013.

For his part, Mr. Blackmer questioned some of Mr. Ellis’ claims in his response, noting that Ellis likely did not even come clean about when he actually acquired the domain.

“[I]t is more likely that the Respondent acquired the Domain Name in 2002, when it resolved to a landing page displaying the Respondent’s digital business card,” Mr. Blackmer wrote, noting the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine shows the domain resolved to an “under construction” landing page, written in German, prior to 2002.

Nonetheless, Mr. Blackmer wrote that Elcoman Srl had not met any burden of proof regarding bad-faith registration and use, accusing the complainant of not properly investigating the facts of the case before making its UDRP filing. Specifically, Mr. Blackmer chastised Elcoman Srl for failing to research any of the most basic elements of UDRP, even with the aid of counsel, and for failing to consider the probability that Mr. Ellis could have been aware of the Italian company, let alone any then-existing trademarks.

“The Complaint deals with a Domain Name registered roughly 20 years ago but does not satisfactorily address the obvious need to establish the likelihood that the Respondent was aware of the trademark at the time of the Domain Name registration,” Mr. Blackmer wrote.

“The Panel finds that the Complaint represents an instance of attempted Reverse Domain Name Hijacking,” Mr. Blackmer concluded, closing out his discussion and findings.

Story posted October 3, 2020.
Source: https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/text.jsp?case=D2020-1628

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